Marines to Implement Microgrid with Kinetic Energy Storage

September 17, 2015 by Jeff Shepard

The US Marine Corp was allocated funds in the amount of $1.7 million by the California Energy Commission in 2013 to implement a microgrid project. A flywheel storage system designed by Quantum Energy Storage Corporation (QESC) will provide the energy storage that enables many applications for the microgrid. Robert Weisenmiller of the Energy Commission has announced that the project at the base will gauge the value of the latest technologies in a real-world environment, all the while supplying reliable and secure energy to the US Marine Corp.

The project, which is integrated within CleanSpark's FractalGrid project, establishes a network of smaller microgrids. These interconnected microgrids covers a base area that include military staff housing, garage lighting, elevators and a server room. These microgrids are nested within a bigger-scale microgrid that services the base and have an islanding option. Distributed generation systems at the base include solar panel systems, diesel gensets, batteries and the initial test run of Quantum's 60 kW, 120-kWh kinetic energy storage system.

QESC kinetic storage was made to last – its lifespan is estimated at 25 years and it can go through 50,000 cycles without deterioration. If we compare this to batteries, it becomes obvious why its kinetic energy storage technology is so advanced. Batteries degrade and utilize dangerous and polluting chemicals. Kinetic energy storage by Quantum comes with a software platform that manages the system. The management platform lends itself to extensive customization at a low cost in microgrids. This is possible because the system is flexible and can be conveniently integrated with distributed assets, such as PV and building systems.

Nearly all flywheel storage systems are employed for the provision of grid services, most prominently frequency regulation, to grids operating on a multi-megawatt scale. Quantum Energy Storage Corp. sees many more applications for this storage beyond these uses.

One possible application in developing countries is as an alternative energy source and voltage support during rolling blackouts. Flywheel storage intends to decrease dependence on diesel generators by as much as 40 percent by replacing or eliminating spinning reserves.

Outlying areas contribute to increased traction that storage systems have received. These areas strive to move away from conventional generation with the aim of reduction in costs related to the instability in fuel price and logistics. This has been stated by Omar Saadeh, a senior GTM research analyst and the author of: "North American Microgrids 2015: Advancing Beyond Local Energy Optimization".

Quantum's kinetic storage is proving its worth at the Marine Base as backup power source for extended nighttime periods, averaging 10 hours. During the day, it serves to supply power for systems like the elevators, which put considerable strain on the grid. This additional energy boost shaves peaks and provides relief. Plans for future storage uses include grid balancing and correcting the power factor.

Isolated regions where electricity prices are high (nearing $0.40 per kWh), such as islands, could benefit greatly from replacing diesel gensets with Quantum's kinetic storage systems. The payback period is currently predicted to be between three and five years.